10 days in NZ

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10 days in NZ

Postby dinna89 » Mon 02 Mar, 2015 10:50 am

I'm heading to NZ for 10 days in early November and I'm trying to decide on which walks I'd be interested in.

I'm planning on doing the Milford Track (will book it soon, I'm paranoid about it booking out), but am interested in doing another walk as well. I'm looking at doing either of the Kepler, Routeburn or Rakiura Tracks, I suppose I'm most interested in hearing feedback about the Rakiura, is it actually a 'Great Walk' or would I be foolish to choose it over either Kepler or Routeburn? I'd also be looking to do Rakiura in two days (one night) and Routeburn in 2-3 days (1-2 nights), which seems to be achievable based on lengths and elevations.

I'm a bit dubious about the Milford Track, I know it's meant to be amazing, but the high level of management is a bit of a turn off, with designated huts each night, and the daily walking sections pretty short. Does anyone know what would happen if I was 'delayed' and arrived a day after my booking, would I be able to undertake the first two sections in one day, or is this a terrible idea?
Last edited by dinna89 on Mon 02 Mar, 2015 12:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby Walk_fat boy_walk » Mon 02 Mar, 2015 12:33 pm

Can't comment on the Rakiura, but...

Given the choice between the Routeburn and Kepler I would definitely choose the Routeburn. It's shorter but can be tied in with the Greenstone or Caples and to me has better views for effort. Both are good, relatively easy walks and both easy to arrange buses to/from the Milford. Day 2 of the Kepler (if doing it anti-clockwise) is spectacular but the rest of it is pretty straightforward, whereas I'd argue that the entire Routeburn is pretty jaw-dropping. Others might have different opinions though.

dinna89 wrote: I'd also be looking to do ... Routeburn in 2-3 days (1-2 nights), which seems to be achievable based on lengths and elevations.


2 nights is the norm, but could do it in one if you wanted to push it. Personally I'd rather spend the extra time to soak it all in. If time is an issue you could do get the bus from the end of the Milford then get dropped off at the Divide - maybe an hour on the bus? - and walk in to Lake Howden or Mackenzie that night and finish at the Glenorchy end. That would give you enough time to take it easy on the Routeburn and still have a couple of days in Q'town afterwards.

dinna89 wrote: I'm a bit dubious about the Milford Track, I know it's meant to be amazing, but the high level of management is a bit of a turn off, with designated huts each night, and the daily waking section pretty short.


The regulation of the Milford is a bit of a pain in the ar$e but still well worth it. I was similarly dubious and had previously avoided it for that reason, but when I finally did do it I found it lived up to the hype. On the length of days, the two middle days aren't that short (especially the third if you incorporate a sidetrip to Sutherland Falls) and the first and last days incorporate ferry trips at each end, so you don't spend too much time sitting around.

dinna89 wrote: Does anyone know what would happen if I was 'delayed' and arrived a day after my booking, would I be able to undertake the first two sections in one day, or is this a terrible idea?


Not sure about this... others might know. As far as I'm aware DoC are pretty anal about not sticking to the normal schedule, but they may not mind if, for circumstances beyond your control, you needed to catch the early ferry from Te Anau and skip the first hut (which is certainly doable physically). An email to the Te Anau DoC office would clarify.
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby wayno » Mon 02 Mar, 2015 2:50 pm

depends what you like , if you like endless forest and waterfalls, then the milford, you dont spend long above the bushline...
kepler is forest and mountain tops, routeburn varies more in scenery, watch it, its booking out far in advance now, its been thrashed in overseas media since the milford has already been thrashed to death by them..
rakiura is a lot of forest. no open mountain tops.
i dont think DOC can stop you delaying your first day. if you pick your tickets up in time they cant sell them to someone else, you might want to tell them so they dont mark you as missing at the first hut, it doesnt muck them up that much, you're paying for the bunk at the first hut regardless.
realise you're in a hut with 50 people, its not so bad when the weathers good, people spread themselves around outside, but when the weathers bad, you're stuck in the hut with all of them. no camping option on the milford track.. and take ear plugs for the snorers.. you cant avoid them...
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby hobbitle » Mon 02 Mar, 2015 3:14 pm

+1 Routeburn for scenery. Personally the great walks tourist track thing isn't really my thing but if you're going to go that way... Routeburn,


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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby wayno » Mon 02 Mar, 2015 3:29 pm

also depends what your impression fo a decent walk is, at 30k the routeburn can seem on the short side. i usually have done it in both directions , its too short doing it in one direction and its a much shorter drive back to queenstown if i finish on the queenstown side.
i hear varying comments about the different tracks, they dont gel with everyone for different reasons. the kepler in bad weather is extremely nasty, you're on the ridge top totally exposed for a good 13k, I was there once and people were panicking in the bad weather and abandoned their packs to get past the ridge top section as fast as possible... I've never heard of that happening anywhere else in NZ.
the routeburn can be equally as bad, i havent been able to stand up straight sometimes on the routeburn. one day i completed it there were only two other people able to complete the trip in bad weather. everyone else baled in high wind and heavy rain..
less of an issue on the milford with a shorter mountain section although in sustained heavy rain the track can be closed due to flooding and sometimes people have to be helicoptered out. if you want to understand what the rain can be like, just stand in front of a hose...
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby dinna89 » Mon 02 Mar, 2015 4:06 pm

Thanks for all the replies.

hobbitle wrote:Personally the great walks tourist track thing isn't really my thing but if you're going to go that way...


You make a good point, I definitely want to do the Milford (Fat Boy convinced me), is there another good option for a quieter track 2-4 days in length in Southland/Otago. I'm not sure I could handle two consecutive hikes in packed huts.
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby wayno » Mon 02 Mar, 2015 4:17 pm

hump ridge track , smaller bunk rooms or i think you can book your own room if you want to pay for it,, cant remember the details there are a range of options , they sell food at the huts cant remember if they prepare it as well.
dusky track but thats a hard one. but the scenery is great.. you can get stuck in heavy rain, you may end up doing long days to capitalise on good weather... only a few hundred to it each year.. i think a lot of the aspiring huts on the main tracks are filling up with overflow from the booked out great walks... hollyford, greenstone, caples mavora, rees dart can be chocka, certain tracks just get hammered in the media and by word of mouth and are getting overrun... Takitimu's get few people, open countryside, oh and snowden forest, but thats mainly lowland, otherwise you'll have to go and tent it...
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby dinna89 » Mon 02 Mar, 2015 7:44 pm

wayno wrote:dusky track but thats a hard one. but the scenery is great..


Dusky looks absolutly amazing. I will have to come back another time for that one I think.

I've just been considering, would there be anywhere suitable to do a 1 or two night snow hike (with snowshoes). Huts would be better, but tents are doable.
We'll be there in early November.


Edit - Also, does anyone now how busy the Rakiura Track is likely to be? There are currently no bookings in Oct or Nov, so that's a good sign
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby wayno » Tue 03 Mar, 2015 2:55 am

expect the likelihood really crap winter weather in early november, there is usually avalanche risk on the routeburn and Kepler in november, if there is, during the booking season, DOC will make you pay for a helicopter to transfer you around the risk around $80.. how much of the track you get helicoptered around depends on the risk.
the Kepler is usually not as bad but, you need to get going early in the morning and not muck around till you're past all the danger, the danger increases a lot in the afternoon in warm weather.
the milford could well be a problem then also. sometimes they delay the opening of the booking season and "close" the track in which case your booking will be cancelled and refunded, and you're unlikely to get another booking till the following autumn.
in the past people have gotten around it but last year doc were forcing people to pay for the helicopter when they picked up their tickets.
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby forest » Tue 03 Mar, 2015 12:00 pm

Just a FYI when we planned to walk the Routeburn in early Nov 11 we couldn't get through.
They will only book the helicopters over the very top section. Early Nov and a lot of the Harris Saddle DOC will list as an avalanche risk.
Apparently DOC did trial a longer choppa shuttle a few years ago all the way from Lake Mackenzie but it ran at a huge loss so they canned that.

Sadly we were told some avalanche clearance work would be done the next day (Day 1 of our walk) and we could then choppa over to the next hut. This info was from DOC @ Te Anau when we picked up our hut tickets.
Upon reaching Lake Mackenzie (Day 1) the warden informed us the track was closed the next day completely as they were clearing avalanche zone. (ie: dropping explosives on it from a choppa then digging the track out)
So day 2 was a turn tail and walk back to the divide. Stunning scenery kept our spirits slightly elevated and the noise of the explosions was enough to convince us proceeding (If possible) was a bad idea.

2 days later sitting in Queenstown and it was tough to stomach all the happy trampers heading off to walk the track with just a short choppa flight.
Them's the breaks in NZ so early in the season I guess. Just something to be aware of.

But all good, cheap flights and I was back within a few months to tick it off the list. Amazing walk the Routeburn.
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby johnrs » Mon 16 Mar, 2015 9:30 am

Hi Dinna
if you are looking for more ideas away from the great walks
check the Te Araroa trail notes on line, this is a nth sth NZ traverse,
lots of great sections away from the hustle,
also the Nelson lakes, perhaps the Travers-Sabine loops for some better weather.

Was it you with an Aarn Pacer for sale?
Best wishes
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby wayno » Mon 16 Mar, 2015 9:51 am

Te araroa isnt strictly a bushwalking track... its a historic trail that misses most of the best areas of the NZ mountains. includes a lot of road bashing and farmland trails. i've met a few people who've given up on doing it through disappointment of what they found the trail was like... and theres no shortage of mud and tree roots and a few dangerous river crossings.
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby dinna89 » Mon 16 Mar, 2015 11:10 am

johnrs wrote:Hi Dinna
if you are looking for more ideas away from the great walks
check the Te Araroa trail notes on line, this is a nth sth NZ traverse,
lots of great sections away from the hustle,
also the Nelson lakes, perhaps the Travers-Sabine loops for some better weather.

Was it you with an Aarn Pacer for sale?
Best wishes
John


Yep, that's my Pacer, still available too :D. Given the complete lack of interest in it I'd probably be willing to drop the price too. (link if anyone is interested http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=19409 )

Thanks for the further info, but I'm going with the Milford/Routeburn combo, heading straight off one onto the other, I'll just have to deal with the crowds as the walks seem too good not to do
I was very nearly tempted by the Dusky, I'll have to come back another year for that one.
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby dinna89 » Thu 31 Dec, 2015 1:56 pm

Quick trip report, better late than never

We ended up doing Milford then straight onto the Routeburn, in early November

Notes on the milford
  • Milford was painfully slow, If I were to do it again I would definitely consider doing the first two days as one
  • Most people on the track are not seasoned walkers. Lots of people really struggled with the distances. It was very gusty coming over the pass, with a light but stinging rain, I was in my element but there were several people having a bad time of it at the pass hut, crying/practically having a meltdown. Although not your average hikers, they were a nice enough bunch, the only group I wasn't fond of were another bunch of australians...
  • Snorer's everywhere, glad I bought good earplugs.
  • weather was nice, except for crossing the pass which was under full fog adn the aforementioned rain/wind
  • highlight of the trip was seeing a sizeable avalanche coming down the opposite side of the valley from the Mintaro Hut, as well as a smaller one when we were in one of the signposted avalanche danger zones :shock:

Notes on the routeburn
  • amazing hike, was a relief to be able to set a faster pace, and the views are stunning. Attracts more of the 'seasoned' walkers.
  • literally everyone we talked to who has done milford and routeburn prefers the routeburn
  • It is easy enough to start the routeburn from the divide the day you finish the milford
  • We stayed at Lake Howden on night one and Routeburn Flats night two, and these seem to be the smaller and quieter huts on the walk. We were originally going to stay at Routeburn Falls, but pushed on as we had heaps of time to spare, as conical hill was closed due to avalanche hazard. Good choice, as we ended up sharing the hut with only one other person.

I'm definitely impressed with what NZ has to offer, and I reckon I'll be back in the next few years to tackle the Dusky, and maybe the greenstone/caples/holyford.
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Re: 10 days in NZ

Postby wayno » Thu 31 Dec, 2015 4:51 pm

there are actually no shortage of inexperienced people who do tackle the routeburn and just about any other track in nz, i've seen them all.
and all the huts fill up as summer continues.
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